Indian Railways has received a budgetary allocation of Rs658.37bn ($9.62bn) in the union budget this fiscal year, compared to Rs550.88bn ($8.05bn) last year.

In her maiden budget speech, Indian Finance Minister Nirmala Sitharaman proposed a capital expenditure outlay of Rs1.6tn ($23.4bn) for railways, the highest ever for the sector.

Outlay figure includes the annual budgetary allocation, as well as funds from the Nirbhaya Fund, Internal Resources and the Extra Budgetary Resources.

The allocation will be used for the construction of new lines, gauge conversion and track doubling. Additionally, it will be used for rolling stock procurement and maintenance, as well as overhauling signalling and telecom networks.

The budget also increases allocation to passenger amenities to Rs34.22bn ($502.84m).

The government is planning to introduce modern train sets, such as Train 18, to enhance passenger comfort and quality of services.

A large-scale railway station modernisation programme will also be taken up this year, the finance minister announced.

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Sitharaman estimated thatrailway infrastructure will require an investment of Rs50tn ($730.45bn) over the following 12 years to 2030.

She proposed to use a public-private partnership to facilitate development works and complete approved projects.

Sitharaman said: “Given that the capital expenditure outlays of Railways are around Rs1.5 to Rs1.6 lakh crores ($23bn) per annum, completing even all sanctioned projects would take decades.

“It is therefore proposed to use public-private partnership to unleash faster development and completion of tracks, rolling stock manufacturing and delivery of passenger freight services.”